So… did I ever tell you the baby quail didn’t make it? The crazy bird lady emailed me the next day and said the little guy was dead by the next morning. I felt like at least we’d done all we could.
What happened today, on the other hand, I feel more responsible for.
This morning Jonas came running inside and said, “I have a new plan!” But Jo without a plan is like my hand without a glass of wine (just unnatural), so I didn’t listen particularly carefully when he went over the details.
“You know those tubes in our front yard? The holes in the ground?” he asked.
I thought he could mean any number of holes in the ground from the drainage tubes to the prairie dog burrows or the holes they’ve dug themselves, but I was distracted by my computer and making breakfast and again, this is just sort of how conversations with Jonas go, so I said, “I guess…” and he continued on.
“I saw a lizard run into one of them. So I’m going to take jars and put them in the holes and wait, and then when a lizard runs into them I’ll flip it up and put the top on it and I’ll have caught a lizard in my lizard trap!” he said enthusiastically.
This is when I should have said, “Why don’t you show me?”
But I actually said, “Sure,” and went back to returning work emails (and by ‘returning work emails’ I mean ‘reading Jezebel’).
A little while later he came back inside and said to Gray, “I really think this is going to work!”
At that point, my ‘Jonas is doing something weird’ spidey sense started to tingle a little bit and I said, “What are you using as bait in these traps?” to which he replied, with a little bit of disappointment, “Nothing,” and I calmed down. He clearly wasn’t going to catch anything with jars stuck in holes and no bait. Even the dopey lizards around our house wouldn’t get caught like that.
Gray agreed this was not a viable plan. “Jo, what if a lizard does go in the jar, but you’re not around? How will you get it?” he asked. I nodded. This seemed like a obvious flaw to me, too.
Jo looked slightly miffed and said, “I’m going to go back out and check on the traps,” before dashing into the heat again.
As I was starting lunch for the kids he came back in through the garage door with scarlet cheeks, poured himself a glass of cold water, took a big gulp and said triumphantly, “It’s working! There is a lizard in my trap.”
I’m no spring chicken. I’ve been around the block a time or two and I’ve been Jonas’s mom for six and a half years. I know if he says he has a baby bird in the garage, there’s a goddamn baby bird in the garage, and if he says there’s a lizard in his trap, there’s a motherfucking lizard in the trap. This was when I could tell I’d made an error in judgement. Whatever contraption he’d designed had probably trapped a gila monster or a rattlesnake and now I was going to have to deal with it.
“OK,” I told him, “take me to it.” Ben came with.
He led us down to the end of the street where there’s a medium-sized desert wash. At the house right next door to the wash he pointed to a drainage tube that was sticking out of some decorative rocks in the yard. There was a green glass mason jar shoved in the tube.
And inside the green glass jar was a fairly large, horned lizard.
“I haven’t tried to take it out yet,” Jonas said. He was obviously a little nervous about the size of the creature he’d managed to catch. But clearly, having an audience was bolstering his courage, so he reached down and began to carefully pull the jar out. I caught this part on video:
After this it all started to make a little more sense. I’d thought he was going to put a jar in the hole with the open side up, like an old fashioned net in a pit type trap, but instead, he’d sealed off the entrance with the jar, assuming there was another end to the tube (in the backyard maybe?). Actually, though, the tubes are just buried so the water flows more easily forward, I guess, and only open on the front end. So the lizard he’d “caught” was already hiding in the shade of the tube when he put the glass jar in, and had either suffocated or cooked to death (probably the latter) after the jar had been attached.
Ugh. I know life is treacherous and death lurks around every corner for these creatures, but I’m sad we were party to the end of this little guy’s existence. And cooking to death in a glass jar? Who can imagine a more horrible way to go (besides maybe being eaten by rabid beavers, that might be slightly worse)?
I’m trying not to get too worked up over it because I know Jo felt bad and that he’s just a kid interested in animals and wildlife. I like that he’s out and about exploring the neighborhood. I’m proud he’s brave enough to sleep in the backyard alone and tries to save injured baby birds. But I guess next time he has ‘a new plan’ that involves the neighborhood wildlife I should walk it through with him.
By the time I was finished cleaning up lunch he’d caught a new friend (this time with his hands):
He named her Keiko. So clearly he’s not as traumatized as I am, and the wildlife hasn’t learned its lesson. Ah the circle of life.